From the Dark to the Bright Side of Racing
Thousands of rural jobs are at risk if the cash-strapped government withdraws the horse racing industry’s annual $345-million share of slot machine revenues – money that the Liberals are now calling a “subsidy”.
Unfortunately, this is the buzz surrounding racing in Ontario right now, the so-called subsidy, which in reality is the 20% share of slot machine revenue at Race Track and Slots throughout the province. 60,000 plus are employed directly through the racing industry from the trainers, to the grooms, the farmers supplying hay and straw to the company picking up the waste. Then the indirect companies that would be affected are the restaurants, hotels, department stores and coffee shops. Without the $345 million, the race tracks share, horse racing in Ontario would be in jeopardy.
On to the brighter side of the sport, The Kentucky Derby is not so far away! Many prep races have been run and many more very important are upcoming. This weekend some dreams might crash and others continue, with key races in Miami, Florida at Gulfstream Park and New Orleans (assuming clean up from Mardi Gras is complete) at The Fairgrounds take place. Ahhhhh! Mardi Gras, Beads, Bourbon St… oh, and horse racing.
The Risen Star Stakes has a purse of $300,000 and will consists of 11 of the finest three-year olds competing on Saturday to increase that ever important graded stakes earnings. It seems as though the favorite is coming from the Todd Pletcher barn, El Padrino, ridden by J Castellano. I think he’s in tough, travelling from Miami to New Orleans, running at a new track, a very long stretch-run and facing jockeys and trainers that have dominated The Fairgrounds for years. Amoss, Amussen, and Larry Jones all have top strong colts ready for this race. My pick for this race is going to be the winner of last month’s prep at The Fairgrounds, Larry Jones’, “Mr. Bowling”, ridden by perennial leading rider Robby Albarado. With a hometown advantage and the fact that he has been undervalued, this horse-jockey combo has a great chance to pull it off and be on their way to Kentucky.
Shifting over a couple states to the slightly warmer Miami Beach area, Gulfstream Park will be hosting the annual Fountain of Youth Stakes. On Sunday, these horses better have their best pair of Nikes on as the two “Futures Pools” favorites for the Derby go head-to-head. Michael Matz is sending out Union Rags for the first time since The Breeders Cup. This beautiful and talented animal is fresh off the shelf and is likely to be the co-favorite along with Algorithms. The race is shaping up to be the toughest prep yet, and along with Discreet Dancer there should be a great finish.
This is where I believe Pletcher is going to get his Derby horse from, as both Algorithms and Discreet Dancer are trained by him and Algorithms is fresh off that amazing victory in the Holy Bull Stakes and is going to be the one to beat. I throw caution to the wind – it’s going to be tough to beat Union Rags, but I believe there is a very good reason why jockey J. Castellano chose to ride Algorithms, and that’s why I am sticking to Pletcher and his horses to come first and second on Sunday in Miami.
…and that is the last word.